I haven’t been following the progress on ArcheAge until just recently. It seems to be a sandboxy themepark blend that just released its founders packs last night. From what I’ve seen and read, this is a game I’d be interested in trying out — far more than ESO or WildStar. It looks graphically amazing, has tons of promised features, and will be free to play at launch. While it does have some open PVP elements, as long as that’s balanced and not a total gankfest, the game has my interest.
What doesn’t have my interest? The cost of their founders packs.
Thoughts on Founders Packs
I’m on the fence about founders packs. I understand their purpose — to secure some Kickstarter-like funding during alpha and beta while “rewarding” the most interested players with early access to a game. At least, I think that’s what it’s supposed to be about.
But when I look over and see an alpha pricetag of $149.99… I just whistle through my teeth (if I could whistle through my teeth).
Call me cheap, but I’ll drop $10 – $20 on Kickstarters for games that have promise and a passionate team. Just about all my gaming friends have plunked down $15 for the Starbound beta, and some of them have put more time into that game than this year’s biggest MMOs!
I even dropped $50 on the Landmark alpha pack, and that’s not something I regret. It’s been rewarding to watch the game as it evolves over time!
That was a different story, however. Landmark offered a $20 option for beta. Even lacking other goodies, it’s an affordable option for someone dedicated to testing, supporting a game, and exploring the game’s secrets. SOE also offered a money-back guarantee if you didn’t like the game. This was the thing that tipped me over from “maybe” to “okay, I’m in.”
But where do gamers draw the line?
When the cheapest founders packs are $49.99, I have to slowly back away. Sure, you get some in-game cash, a cool glider, 30-day patron status, and a neat title. Maybe all this adds up to something worth $50?
The problem is, I can’t really judge its worth since I’ve not stepped foot in the game and tried it for myself. And if I don’t like it? Is that really a risk I want to take with my money?
Also… Why do they even ask you to sign up for beta if they’re just going to sell seats to it? It’s not like you can compete with the number of founder folks who are promised a spot.
Learning from Betas
I’ve learned something important about MMO gaming this year. Actually, I learned it last year, when I put forward support for the Dragon’s Prophet alpha and beta, and walked away burned for time and some cash.
What did I learn? Not every big-name MMO is going to be something I like and need to play. Gone are the days when I rode the hype for the next new MMO, back with the next new MMO title was far more rare than it is now.
I learned that genuinely bad MMOs can exist. Even (and I wince as I say it) MMOs that include dragon capture, dragon riding, scythes and a housing system. How could so many great-sounding features fall so flat? Yes, I’m still sour about Dragon’s Prophet. I wanted it to be wonderful! It… simply was not.
After that burn, I’ve been more careful where I put my dedication and time, especially when it comes to games with paid founders packs, pre-orders and beta. Especially those that won’t be free to play in the end — ESO and WildStar, I’m looking at you!
The best thing ever? Getting to try free betas for the next-best-MMOs like ESO and WildStar. I was sad, but neither game excited me, especially not for a monthly subscription price. And yes, while it was beta and things will change, the overall feel and approach a game uses for storyline, questing, art and atmosphere will likely not change all that much from beta to launch.
Back to these Founders Packs
All this being said, I still don’t know where I stand with the idea of founder packs, especially for future free to play games. I don’t razz folks who really love a game, have the money to support it, and put their money where their mouths are.
On the other hand, what’s the message gamers are sending to companies when they shove $150 at them for the chance to play an unfinished alpha-stage game? It says that this kind of pricing is okay and that gamers will take the risk.
Then there’s the question of how does selling founders packs differ from supporting something on Kickstarter? My answer for that? It differs by about $30 – $35 dollars in this case!
PS: If there was a $19.99 option I would have given it a shot. But this kind of founder pricing makes me worry where the game’s pricing on RMT will be headed at launch.